The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has defended the move toward a franchise system in the regional first-class championship bowling off in November.
Speaking after the signing of a new collective bargaining agreement and memorandum of understanding between the WICB and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) at the Accra Hotel yesterday, Cameron said franchise cricket wasn’t a novel format for first-class cricket.
“What we are doing is not revolutionary. It’s been in place [among] the top four countries in the world. That’s why they are consistent, that’s what they have been doing. It exists in England. There are 18 counties with 18 second division teams. There are 20 million people in Australia [and] they are six franchise (professional teams). It exists in South Africa.
“What we have been able to agree is the only way we are going to go forward, is to at least have this system. We need to make it a West Indian culture which is that we are comfortable playing with each other in our own environment and we want the best players playing together,” Cameron said.
Cameron said there will now be 105 players engaged in cricket all year round.
“We are going to have 15 at the WICB level – which I will call the international team, while we will have 90 players at the regional franchise level – 15 players among the six teams. . . . That, we believe, will now drive the competitiveness to ensure that when they get into the West Indies team, they are already accustomed to playing with each other,” he said.
“It is a deliberate attempt to move away from just saying that you have to be born within the territory to play for that franchise. It doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world and we don’t see any reason why it has to happen in the West Indies.”
President and chief executive officer of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), Wavell Hinds, said it was “a great occasion for West Indies cricket”.
“As players, we think that this is the best choice for us to make sure that our wider scale of cricketers are operating at a professional level and have a living wage so that they can get up, go to work, ply their trade, work on their skills and make themselves more marketable and more professional,” the former West Indies opener said.
WICB director of cricket Richard Pybus said the introduction of the franchise system was for the West Indies to close the gap with the top international teams.
“This is actually the best practice elsewhere in the world. Where the West Indies has been at is that we have been left behind dramatically and that has been reflected in the results,” Pybus said.
“Most of of you would’ve known that the region’s best players got polished up in English county cricket for six months of the year. That window of opportunity closed about 15 years ago. Now what we need to do is to take responsibility for developing and managing our players,” he said.
“What we are producing at the international level is a production of what we are doing at the first-class level in the region and we have been off the pace so we’ve got a gap to close,” he added.